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Month: July 2018

Are we ready for the ‘Walls of Wood’?

Logs piled up at Centreport in Wellington. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

Special correspondent Gavin Evans finds log exports have tripled in the last decade and could at least double again over the next decade. He takes a detailed look at the wave of port, rail and road investment needed to cope with this ‘wall of wood’, let alone an even bigger one planned under the Government’s ‘Billion Trees’ programme.

All over the North Island, ports and KiwiRail are scrambling to deal with a ‘wall of wood’ that has tripled since 2008. They say they will need to invest heavily again if they are to cope with another potential doubling of the harvest in the coming years. High log prices because of Chinese demand could easily trigger another surge in the ‘wall’.

The ports of New Plymouth, Gisborne, Napier and Wellington are straining to keep up with the demand to move logs from forests to ports, and will have to work hand-in-hand with a capital constrained KiwiRail to avoid regional roads and highways being pounded into potholes by fleets of logging trucks.

For example, Port Taranaki is hoping a planned rail service from Whanganui will help it capture a bigger share of the wall of wood coming out of the lower North Island.

The company has been working with KiwiRail and foresters and says it is close to settling a new service that could deliver between 80,000 and 120,000 tonnes of logs to the port annually starting early next year.

Chief executive Guy Roper says the details of the cost and the share of the investment are still being worked through. But he says an improved supply chain would be more efficient and improve the return to forest owners.

“This is about growth – additional logs coming to Port Taranaki from the Whanganui area,” he says.

“Logs within a closer radius of the port are still likely to come on trucks. But logs will no longer be exclusively on trucks, which will help congestion, help reduce the amount of maintenance and upgrades required, and reduce carbon emissions.”

Taranaki handled 692,000 tonnes of logs in the year through June, 42 per cent more than a year earlier. But it is not alone trying to cater for the forestry boom. Many of the country’s ports have experienced 20 percent-plus annual volume growth in recent years as trees have reached harvest age and strong demand from China has delivered record prices.

Many ports have, or are, extending log yards and rationalising wharf space to cope. Others are planning dredging to cater for bigger vessels or paving yards and buying bigger loaders and higher book-ends – the massive steel frames logs are stacked within – to improve their use of space.

But some, such as Napier and Eastland at Gisborne, are also facing a step-change in investment to increase capacity and reduce congestion. The major berth expansions planned in coming years will cater not just for the expected logs growth, but also increasing cruise ship visits and growth in other export freight.

And the planning and commitment that entails should be on peoples’ radar if the country is to more double or almost triple its forest estate by 2050 – as recommended by the Productivity Commission – to help meet its climate change targets.

That extra 1.3 million to 2.8 million hectares of trees will most likely be planted in more marginal – and hard to get to – dry stock land in eastern Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, southern Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and down the east coast of the South Island. And that will have big implications for the road and rail links in those areas – if they exist – to get those logs to port.

As Forestry Minister Shane Jones told MPs in June, careful planning will be needed to ensure any exotics planted as part of the billion trees programme don’t become “stranded assets”.

And then there are the capital requirements. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council,which owns Napier Port, has already signaled it doesn’t have the funds to meet both its environmental plans and fund the $250 million to $300 million of spending the port says it will need in the next decade to meet its growing log, cruise ship and export apple trade.

The council will go to ratepayers later this year on options that could include selling part of the business or leasing the port out long-term to an operator prepared to make that investment.

Northport has also begun consulting on a much longer-term concept plan for extending its wharves east and west to cater for more log and container traffic.

Better times for KiwiRail

In the meantime, KiwiRail has benefited from the rising harvest volumes and has expanded its fleet of log wagons 40 per cent since 2011.

It converted about 130 container wagons to carry logs last year. It will accommodate the new Taranaki service within the 200 wagon conversions it plans in the current financial year, Alan Piper, the firm’s sales and commercial general manager, says.

The viability of a rail service to a forester depends on a range of variables, including train size and the distance of a forest from the rail head.

But, as a general rule, he says distances of 85 kilometres or more from port provide the biggest advantage over trucking. And the truck trips avoided reduce road wear and cut emissions by about two-thirds.

Earlier this year KiwiRail was delivering 60 log trains a week to Tauranga from yards at Kawerau, Murupara and Kinleith. It estimates those loads avoided 340 truck movements a day.
Centreport in Wellington has also benefited from its rail links to Wairarapa, the main trunk line north and west to Wanganui to deliver its increasing log volumes. It handled 653,000 tonnes of logs in the six months through December, 5 per cent more than a year earlier.

But nationally, the sheer volume is the challenge, and it’s not all coming from regions well-served by rail.

Exports have tripled, and may rise another two thirds

New Zealand has about 1.7 million hectares of plantation forest and the harvest reached a record 33.1 cubic metres in 2017 – a 50 per cent increase since 2008, according to Westpac. Log exports reached 19.4 million cubic metres, 11 per cent more than a year earlier and almost triple that in 2008.

And depending on markets and the industry finding enough contractors and trucks and wharf space, that could reach 43 million cubic metres by 2021, according to age-based projections of wood availability. One Ministry of Primary Industries scenario sees the available harvest rising as high as 55 million cubic metres by 2022. (Updates from earlier version to make clear available harvest could rise 66 percent, rather than double)

A more measured scenario, in which hundreds of small forest owners adopt the more sustainable harvest policy of the large-scale operators, could see volumes sustained at more than 35 million cubic metres for a decade from about 2024, according to forecasts prepared for the Ministry of Primary Industries in 2014.

Regardless of when the peak supply arrives “there is a whole big wall of wood coming during the next seven years,” Westpac industry economist Peter Clark says.

But knowing when that volume will peak, and how best to move it, is the challenge for ports and transport firms. And while rail may be the more efficient, low-emissions way to move logs, it isn’t available everywhere and may only soak up the growth in volume rather than reduce the number of trucks already on the country’s roads.

Clark says the long-term outlook for New Zealand forestry is very good, given ongoing urbanisation and construction demand in places like China and India. The increasing use of New Zealand pine as structural timber in more markets is also positive.

But he says nearer term risks to the demand outlook are real. There has already been a slowdown in China – New Zealand’s biggest log buyer – and looming trade wars may also have an impact.

The central North Island dominates the country’s radiata pine crop and Port of Tauranga takes the lion’s share. The country’s biggest port moved 3.3 million tonnes of logs across its wharves in the six months ended December – 12 per cent more than a year earlier.

Napier Port, the country’s fourth-largest, handled a record two million tonnes of logs in the year through May. The 1.6 million tonnes shifted in the September year was 35 per cent more than the year before.

Log trucks arrive every few minutes at the port which also receives a daily log train from Whanganui. Rail delivered about 202,000 tonnes of the logs the port loaded onto 118 ships last year.

The company is now seeking consent for a $125 million wharf expansion to help cater for extra log ships and cruise liners.

It is expecting an almost nine per cent lift in log carrier visits by 2019 and a 49 per cent increase in all export volumes by 2026. And a big part of that is down to the reopening of the Napier-Wairoa freight line expected by the end of this year. KiwiRail estimates that could take as many as 5,500 log trucks off the roads a year.

Expansion plans in Gisborne

Eastland, the country’s second-largest log exporter, moved close to three million tonnes in the March year just ended – another record and about 20 percent more than the year before.

The community-owned firm, which has upgraded its log yards and started a satellite yard at Matawhero west of the city in 2011, believes those volumes could reach four to five million tonnes in the next six to eight years.

Eastland has invested more than $90 million in capital projects for the port in the past decade. Last year it indicated its Twin Berth project – to enable it to handle two 200-metre Handymax carriers at a time – would account for most of the $70 million of capital work planned during the following five years.

The work includes dredging, extending an existing wharf and strengthening the existing breakwater. Its final cost will depend on the extent and pace of reclamation – anything from 1.5 hectares to about four.

Like any infrastructure operator, Eastland wants to make sure it has the capacity in place to meet exporters’ needs. But it also needs to do that at least possible cost if the region’s foresters are to benefit.

Ports infrastructure manager Martin Bayley told foresters earlier this month he is keen to hold off “pouring more concrete” if some of that expected increase in volumes can be met with more efficient use of the existing assets.

“It’s easier to build cost than it is to build value,” he said during a presentation at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry conference in Nelson on July 10.

Eastland’s catchment stretches from the Wairoa River, 100 kilometres south of Gisborne, to Hicks Bay, 180 kilometres north at the top of East Cape.

And the region’s fragile soils mean its “trash” roads are hard to maintain, Minister Jones told the same conference. That’s why he’s pushing investigations of a wharf at Hicks Bay that logs could be barged from.

Eastland is working with iwi interests to test the feasibility of the plan.

Its early days. Bayley says building a wharf is one thing, but the economics of shifting logs is a function of both distance and the number of times the logs need to be handled. A port, he notes, also relies on a small industry of supporting operations to function.

Virtually all the country’s ports are investing in new loaders or paving to improve the efficiency of their log operations.

Even in the South Island

Port Marlborough’s Shakespeare Bay facility is handling about 700,000 tonnes of export logs, up from 507,000 five years ago. The company believes it can lift that to about a million tonnes in coming years through judicious investment in new plant and higher stackers.

Southport at Bluff is investing about $2.2 million adding a hectare of log space this year; Lyttelton recently resealed 15,000 square metres and improved storm water treatment for its all-weather log yard.

Port of Nelson embarked on a string of projects three years ago buying land, demolishing buildings and rationalising space. It expects to complete the work mid-2019.
A recent small reclamation will increase its storage space by more than 13 per cent to at least 85,000 Japanese agriculture standard cubic metres.

The firm handled 1.13 million cubic metres of logs in the June year, 26 per cent more than a year earlier. Annual shipments averaged 650,000 in the decade ended 2016.

“There has certainly been significant growth over the last two years,” acting chief executive Matt McDonald says. “Looking at the figures for the past six months or so, the volume going through the port has been more in the 1.2 – 1.3 million JAS range.”

Suez Canal Grinds to a Halt after Multi-Ship Groundings, Collisions

Suez canal
illustration; Image Courtesy: Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 3.0/AashayBaindur

The Suez Canal, Egypt’s busiest waterway, has been experiencing traffic mayhem over the past two days as multiple groundings and collisions brought the canal to a standstill.

The drama started with the grounding of a containership on July 15, which has been identified as Aeneas.

The 63,059 dwt containership grounded during its transit at about 1830 hours local time, GAC Egypt reported.

It was the 20th in the Southbound convoy of 27 vessels. Initial reports indicate that the ship suffered an engine failure that led to the grounding.

Suez Canal tugs towed the stricken boxship to Suez outer anchorage at 01.36 hours on July 16 and the canal was cleared, GAC reported citing Suez Canal Authority.

“Some of Southbound ships that had been behind the grounded vessel cleared the canal. Only four were detained and resumed their transit at 0300 hours today (July 17),” GAC said.

The incident was followed by the grounding bulk carrier of 39,929 dwt on July 16, identified as Panamax Alexander.

The 39,000 dwt bulker was behind the the stricken containership in the Southbound convoy and run aground having collided with another bulker right behind it.

Two bulkers, Sakizaya Kalon and Osios David, are also anchored in the canal area, today’s data from Marine Traffic shows.

Based on the latest information from the Suez Canal Authority, the grounded bulker was refloated on Monday afternoon and has arrived at the Great Better Lakes.

As of today, the Suez Canal is ready for convoys to resume transiting, the authority said, however, dozens of ships have been delayed.

The transit arrangement for delayed convoys from Monday and Tuesday have not yet been announced, GAC said.

The 18 ships whose transit was interrupted on July 16 resumed their voyage Southbound early this morning and are expected to start exiting the canal later today.

As for the Northbound convoy, only 6 ships entered the canal and they are waiting at Great Better Lakes. Around 12 ships remain waiting at Suez anchorages.

There are 25 vessels that were scheduled to start their Northbound transit today and they are still waiting at Suez anchorages for SCA transit arrangements, GAC informed.

With regard to the Southbound voyage for today, only 11 ships from total 29 ships entered the canal and the rest of this convoy is still waiting at Port Said anchorage for further instructions.

World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Wikimedia/AashayBaindur under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Fuelling the ships of the future

By 2020, the global shipping fleet will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and switch to low-sulphur fuels, a move that is expected to radically improve air quality. The recent decision pushed through by the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nation’s leading shipping agency, is one of the biggest revolutions in maritime history. Its effects will be felt the world over, by refineries and ship owners as well as trading hubs and ordinary consumers at the gas pump.

This is good news for the environment. According to a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council, with ships allowed to burn fuel with sulphur levels that are up to 3,500 times higher than permitted in on-road diesel, one container ship cruising along the coast of China emits as much diesel pollution as half a million new Chinese trucks in a single day. The major overhaul shows that the industry is finally making the transition from thick, sulphur-rich bunker fuel to cleaner, more environmentally friendly maritime fuel.

But in order to make sure that these changes have a lasting impact that goes beyond the shipping industry we will need to embrace the full potential of marine fuels and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and create a new culture of transparency, although within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) itself.

The IMO ruling to push the sulphur cap for bunker fuel down to 0.5% will affect 70,000 ships and will be a game changer for marine fuel. More broadly, the wider commodities industry, from coal to oil to sugar, is likely to face a price hike. No sector will be immune to these changes as the shipping industry carries almost 90 per cent of world trade. Airlines and travellers worldwide are also likely to be affected due to a knock-on effect creating higher fuel prices.

So where do we go from here? There is no silver bullet to the post-2020 scenario. Alternatives include using sulphur-rich fuel oils alongside so-called scrubber systems, exhaust gas cleaning systems, a technology which also has many drawbacks. The cost of investing in scrubbers can exceed US$10 million per ship. The low margins of the sector mean that ship owners are understandably reluctant to make these investments.

That is why the shipping sector must create a general consensus for post-2020 bunkering, one that will help cut costs and improve energy supply and security. Low sulphur fuel oil and liquefied natural gas are the way forward. They are credible solutions for energy stakeholders seeking an economic and environmentally sustainable option. LNG bunkering contains almost no sulphur, produces low greenhouse gas emissions and has a proven technological track-record.

Looking to the future, it is important that the shipping sector takes steps to harness the full potential of LNG as well as offset the potential consequences of the new regulations pushed through by the IMO. To do this, we first need to address the likely challenge of millions of barrels of high sulphur bunker fuel being displaced as a result of the new limits. This is because the marine market has traditionally been a major outlet for the refining industry.

Second, we will need to do the maths and work out the logistics of sourcing high volumes of LNG for bunkering in line with domestic and industrial needs. This will involve addressing the question of supply, mindful of the fact that in the short-term low-sulphur fuels will dominate until large scale consumption of LNG takes hold across the bunker sector.

Finally, a new culture of transparency has to take root in the shipping industry, encompassing all major players – including the IMO. A report published this month by Transparency International, the global corruption watchdog, highlighted several accountability shortcomings that are weighing down the Organisaton. These must be addressed if the IMO is to deliver on its ambitious and honourable goals.

The IMO’s ground-breaking changes are essentially a force for good. And they are no doubt the first of many steps aimed at making the shipping sector less of a menace to the environment. This is a unique opportunity for energy stakeholders, big and small, to stay ahead of the curve and rethink how we do business.
Source: New Europe

Southern flavour for 2018 road transport conference

This year’s Road Transport Forum Conference, which is now only two months away, will celebrate the important role of the road transport industry in the Otago and Southland regions, says RTF Chief Executive Ken Shirley.

The Conference, which is to be held on 26 and 27 September at the fantastic Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin features a range of influential and inspiring speakers to inform and entertain delegates.

“We are grateful that Transport Minister Phil Twyford has committed to returning after speaking at our 2017 conference and we look forward to learning more about the Government’s new transport plans that will have such a major impact on our industry,” says Shirley.

“Other speakers include highly regarded economic commentator Cameron Bagrie, who will provide an analysis on the state of the New Zealand economy; Chairman of HW Richardson Group, Rex Williams, who will share his experiences of being involved in the iconic Southland transport company and Graeme Gale from Helicopters Otago, owner of one of the largest commercial helicopter operations in New Zealand.”

“Specific industry issues such as driver fatigue and impairment, and training and qualifications will also be discussed by panels involving subject experts and road transport operators.”

Well-known Dunedin entertainer Doug Kamo will MC the Conference while Otago sports icon and legendary rugby commentator Paul Allison will entertain delegates with stories from his days both on and off the sports field. There will also be trade and vehicle displays supplied by sponsors and supporters of the industry.

The prestigious New Zealand Road Transport Industry Awards Dinner will be held on the evening of the 26th September in the Dunedin Town Hall and will be a celebration of some of the outstanding achievers in road transport as well as a great night of local entertainment.

The 2018 New Zealand Truck Driving Championships Final, traditionally held alongside the Conference, will this year start a day early and take place on the ‘East Slab’ of the stadium, which should make for a tight and technical course in a spectacular setting.

The Conference website, including an online registration facility, accommodation options, sponsorship packages, transport and a partner’s programme is available at www.rtfconference.co.nz.

The Road Transport Forum represents the interests of the road transport industry and our member associations – National Road Carriers, Road Transport Association NZ and the NZ Trucking Association.

World’s largest container vessels under construction in Shanghai

Construction of two container ships with the carrying capacity of 22,000 TEUs, which would make them the largest container vessels in the world, began on Thursday, the paper.cn reported.

The two are among nine 22,000 TEU vessels deal signed by French container shipping operator CMA CGM and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) in September last year.

Built by Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard and Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, the two container vessels measure 400 meters in length, 61.3 meters in breadth and 33.5 meters in depth. The deadweight of the box ship is 220,000 DWT, which can contain 1,000,000,000 iPhoneX (with standard packing box). Moreover, it can still hold 2,200 4-foot refrigerated containers, accounting 20 percent of the whole TEU.

Besides, they are also the world’s first giant container ships propelling with engines burning liquefied natural gas, a technology breakthrough for environmental protection. They have distinctive advantages compared to the current ships using heavy fuel oil: Up to 25 percent less CO2, 99 percent less sulphur emissions, 99 percent less fine particles and 85 percent nitrogen oxides emissions.

The two vessels are expected to be delivered in 2019.
Source: ChinaDaily

Woodville gets preview of new Manawatū Gorge route

NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy discusses the map with Woodville residents Fiona Nesbit and Glenn McDean.

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy discusses the map with Woodville residents Fiona Nesbit and Glenn McDean.

Residents of a town hit in the pocket by the closure of the Manawatū Gorge have given the proposed replacement route two thumbs up.

New Zealand Transport Agency is running information sessions in Tararua and Manawatū about progress on the Manawatū Gorge replacement route.

State Highway 3 through the gorge has been closed since April 2017 due to large landslips falling on the road.

The agency announced in March its preferred replacement, which would run between the gorge and the current de facto highway, the Saddle Rd, and should be built by 2024.

Agency highway manager Ross I’Anson​ said the initial corridor given in March was about 500 metres wide.

Samples of earth were taken along the corridor in May, giving the agency a better idea of where the road could go.

That helped the agency come up with the design shown off at the information sessions, although it may move slightly, I’Anson said.

“We are pretty confident it’s able to be built there.”

The agency had a map of the proposed route on display in Woodville on Wednesday night, as well as a digitally produced flyover video of the route.

Betty and Athol Sowry, from Valley Rd, Woodville, with the timeline information brochure from the meeting.

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Betty and Athol Sowry, from Valley Rd, Woodville, with the timeline information brochure from the meeting.

The video was only an indication of the route, but the map contained much more detail.

The route would use the existing bridge across the Manawatū River east of Ashhurst, before curving north and across the river via a newly built bridge and curving back to the east.

Various small side roads attached to the route would give access to wind farms, with at least one possibly requiring an underpass beneath the new route.

However, some wind farm access roads, such as one off the Saddle Rd, would have to be closed instead of linking to the new route.

The route would the head south down the Tararua side of the ranges, before joining the route that used to take Manawatū Gorge traffic into Woodville.

Almost the entire route would have two lanes in each direction.

Meeting attendees view an animated fly-over video of the proposed route.

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Meeting attendees view an animated fly-over video of the proposed route.

People who attended the information session in Woodville on Wednesday night were happy with the route.

John Gooding​ said he was more than happy with the proposal, as it would have long-term benefits for real estate and business.

“It seems like a pretty good quality route.”

Steve and Fiona Nesbit moved their business, Powerhouse Tattoos, from Palmerston North to Woodville after the gorge closed.

Fiona Nesbit said the proposed route was “amazing”.

Woodville residents Ian Cumming and Marty Lean discuss the new road map with NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy.

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Woodville residents Ian Cumming and Marty Lean discuss the new road map with NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy.

“I didn’t expect it to be this tidy. It covers all the bases.”

Steve Nesbit said he was most impressed with how straight the proposed route was once it got onto the range.

“It’s just like a highway.

“Having it so straight, compared to the Saddle Rd, is a major. It’s a direct link [between Woodville and Palmerston North].”

The next information sessions will be at Palmerston North’s Convention Centre on Thurdsay, Dannevirke Sports Centre on Tuesday, and the Pahīatua Town Hall on Wednesday, all running from 4pm until 8pm.

Sessions have already been held in Ashhurst about proposed changes to the town’s traffic layout.

For more information on the sessions, and maps of the Ashhurst changes and Manawatū Gorge replacement route, see nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh3-manawatu-gorge.

State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since slips fell on the road in 2017.

SUPPLIED
State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since slips fell on the road in 2017.

Truck towing connections: Auto-brakes fail on loose trailer

An investigation into truck safety problems has revealed the auto-brakes failed on a fully-loaded trailer that came loose on a highway.

The Transport Agency (NZTA) investigation is also looking into whether heavy vehicle certifers have been signing off towing connections by looking at photos instead of checking them in-person.

The auto-brakes, designed to immediately stop any trailer that comes loose, failed on a 48-tonne truck-trailer that snapped off, careened across State Highway 6 and into a bank last August. No one was hurt, but the incident helped prompt a safety alert this year.

NZTA has blamed the failure on “poor maintenance standards” on the unit.

NZTA cut its heavy vehicle compliance team of a dozen in half in 2014, even as more and more bigger, 50-tonne, 700-horsepower trucks were being allowed on the road – now it is adding five auditors and engineers.

It started bringing in other changes last year, aimed at doing targeted checks based on “intelligence”, in place of a broad-brush approach to auditing certifiers.

NZTA is also introducing extra inspections of semi-trailers, plus rules for getting trucks modified so corrosion can be spotted more easily.

A safety sweep in Nelson has led to 500 heavy vehicles being re-certified, with another 400 needing even more work, such as repairs or replacement towing parts, despite being on the road up until recently. Another 500 vehicles still need to be inspected.

In a second lot of safety inspections of 1000 refrigerated semi-trailers nationwide, big reputable operators found problems: Hall’s in Auckland had to repair or replace 12 towing connections mostly due to cracks after checks on 150 trucks.

Hall’s raised semi-trailer design and safety concerns with the agency in March 2017.

‘Ticking time-bomb’

NZTA has confirmed its investigation is also looking into whether certifiers had been signing off truck-trailers by ‘remote’, that is, doing a design, sending it to a workshop, then okaying it on the basis of photos only.

Sources told RNZ this has been happening.

But NZTA said it couldn’t provide any further details while the investigation was underway, “as any such evidence could be used to support decisions to suspend or revoke the certification authority of the individuals under investigation”.

NZTA has also refused or delayed six Official Information Act requests from RNZ, saying it’s because investigations are ongoing.

Industry insiders won’t talk publicly for fear of jeopardising contracts or becoming a target of the agency or trucking industry. But those who have talked to RNZ on the basis of anonymity include certifiers, truck operators and other engineers.

“This sort of thing has been a time-bomb ticking away for the last few years and I think that the problem is even worse than reported,” one said.

“A lot of engineers in the heavy vehicle side, they are out of their depth really,” another said.

Two certifiers estimate 5 to 10 per cent of the 80-strong workforce of heavy vehicle certifiers were either deliberately cutting corners to capture business, out of their depth or under such pressure from overwork they were prone to mistakes.

One insider said: “I could name four or five other certifiers which I’d be very surprised the Transport Agency is not looking at.”

It had taken too long to get to this point, an industry veteran said, adding “NZTA’s auditing of certifiers is a joke”.

“Like all modern-day audits, if the paper trail is correct then the job must have been done well. The physical aspect of the certification process only rates as of minor importance.”

Two other sources raised the problem of heavier truck designs relying on lighter-grade, higher-tensile steel that is much harder to weld, and that while the welders were qualified, the welding process was not being inspected as it should be.

Other issues included questions about braking standards.

“The brake rule … was introduced in 1991 and it contained errors. Those errors exist today despite industry groups trying to get them rectified,” an ex-certifier said.

An agency proposal to allow the maximum tyre pressure for some trucks to rise from 825 to 900 KPA was also a problem. The agency said this was for safety and fuel efficiency; however, it puts more stress on the trailer and the road.

Ports a catalyst for industrial property

Sales of land for logistics purposes related to its port operations are booming at Napier. Photo / Supplied
Sales of land for logistics purposes related to its port operations are booming at Napier. Photo / Supplied

The New Zealand Ports and Freight Yearbook 2018 produced by accountancy firm Deloittes, says the country’s two major container ports — in Tauranga and Auckland — continue to be the dominant players in the market, with a combined market share of 62 per cent of all containers handled last year, while all New Zealand ports increased container throughput in 2017.

National director for Bayleys Real Estate’s industrial and logistics division, Scott Campbell, says regional New Zealand’s industrial property sector had already benefited as a consequence of not only the growth in port activity, but also the way in which goods were being transported in to and out of the country. “Previously it was a case of a wharf-to-warehouse supply chain for imports, or vice-versa for exports. Now though, with bigger volumes coming in, we are seeing the rise of intermediary in-land ports,” Campbell says.

“And for both import and export-reliant firms, we are seeing much bigger warehousing facilities being built to accommodate stock, either once it has been unloaded from containers, or in advance of being containerised.

“That has seen a greater prevalence of ultra high-stud ‘drive through’ warehousing rather than the traditional dock and platform loading bays. “Warehousing facilities are buying bigger landholdings capable of storing substantial numbers of both 20 and 40-foot containers.”

Artist's impression of Tainui Group Holdings' plans for a 480ha inland port and logistics hub at Ruakura. Photo / SuppliedArtist’s impression of Tainui Group Holdings’ plans for a 480ha inland port and logistics hub at Ruakura. Photo / Supplied

Ports activities analysis from Bayleys’ research division has identified significant commercial property activity expansion in three New Zealand regions which have seen their shipping, rail and trucking transport volumes increase over the past decade — in the Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury.

In Waikato, Tainui Group Holdings is embarking on an ambitious 480hainland port and logistics hub development at Ruakura.

Project general manager Blair Morris says due to demand, the Ruakura initiative is moving along much faster than anticipated — with full build-out in less than 30 years versus the company’s initial estimate of 50 years.

“We forecast up to 2.6 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent container units) would be moving by 2044. However, the pace of growth is ahead of forecast as the two major North Island ports are already moving circa 2.2 million TEUs, only four years on from the forecast”, says Morris.

Inquiry about industrial property sites at Ruakura is coming chiefly from major warehousing and distribution businesses looking to relocate outside of Auckland and includes significant players in the construction, food and beverage processing, and retailing sectors.

Meanwhile in Hawke’s Bay, Napier’s business development manager, Andrew Palairet, said the company has acquired a large block of land at Whakatu for potentially creating a freight hub. The site is leased to a third party in the interim.

Largely unseen by the public, port operations continue 24/7. Photo / SuppliedLargely unseen by the public, port operations continue 24/7. Photo / Supplied

Two years ago the port acquired 4.5ha site in Napier’s Pandora industrial precinct, primarily to enable expansion of its existing empty container handling depot adjacent to the new site.

“There are large, medium and small land blocks available for purchase or lease within Napier, Hastings and surrounds. Land values are on the rise and the economic mix should provide a steady stream of tenants,” Palairet says.

Rolleston, just south of Christchurch is the pre-eminent industrial growth area in Canterbury, underpinned by the two inland ports — MetroPort and MidlandPort.

industrial development firm Carter Group is behind Rolleston’s evolving IPort Business Park which occupies 95ha of industrial land, part of which has an boundary with Lyttleton Port of Christchurch’s MidlandPort.

Lyttelton, the port serving Christchurch, purchased 27ha of the original 122ha MidlandPort industrial site for its Rolleston-based operations. Around 92 per cent of Canterbury’s exports transit though Rolleston.

The land parcels IPort is selling adjacent to the MidlandPort operations offer huge scope for owners/developers looking for large shed properties on sites up to 7ha each. Around 18ha of IPort land has also been set aside for large format retail.

The balance of the industrial land is being carved up into sites ranging from 800sq m to 3ha — with Carter Group targeting businesses which may never have considered purchasing industrial land before.

Northport gets permanent, year-round, fortnightly port call from Mediterranean Shipping Company

The MSC ship, Northern Diplomat, took the first kiwifruit harvest from Northport earlier this year. Now the trial export service has been a permanent addition to the port's schedule.
The MSC ship, Northern Diplomat, took the first kiwifruit harvest from Northport earlier this year. Now the trial export service has been a permanent addition to the port’s schedule.

A double dose of good news has Northland’s deepwater port Northport buzzing, with expanded coastal shipping services locked in and a trial kiwifruit export service now operating year-round and taking other export products.

Northport chief executive Jon Moore said a seasonal trial of a port call at Northport by a global shipping giant has become a permanent, year-round service.

MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) has announced it is making the fortnightly port call at Northport by its Kiwi Express service a fixed part of its international schedule. The move will improve access to international markets for Northland’s exporters and importers.

A trial, which started in May and was planned to run until the end of the kiwifruit season in late August, has brought a ship to Northport every two weeks to load Zespri kiwifruit and other locally grown produce.

But the year-round service means other Northland exports can use it. The kiwifruit service alone was expected to take more than 500 truck and trailer trips off the road south of Marsden Pt.

Moore said that as well Pacifica Shipping had also confirmed it was expanding its coastal shipping service between Northport and ports further south, including into the South Island.

He said this opened up new opportunities for Northland businesses to get their products to elsewhere in the country without the need for them to be transported by road south of Marsden Pt, which would save costs and also mean less trucks on the roads.

”A port is a facilitator and we don’t drive any of this, but we can facilitate it well and if we didn’t have a port we wouldn’t be able to do any of this,” he said.

”The two announcements) have the potential to really help business grow in Northland and it’s now up to the business community to help grow this service by using it.”

General manager of MSC New Zealand Steve Wright said the company was delighted to add Northport as a year-round call on the Kiwi Express.

“It is a noticeable and important inclusion for all exporters and importers in the Northland region, as they now have direct access to all international markets for their cargo.”

Northland Inc chief executive officer David Wilson said the move was a really good sign.

“It’s showing confidence in the Northland economy.”

He said the move “just makes complete sense” and makes it a lot easier for Northland businesses to directly reach international markets.

“The cost of freight and logistics is an important component in any exporter’s product offering.”

Kerikeri-based grower, coolstore and packhouse operator Alan Thompson thought the move from a trial service to a permanent one was good and he hoped others would make use of it year-round.

Before the trial, kiwifruit was trucked from Kerikeri to Auckland before being loaded on to rail and taken to the Port of Tauranga for export.

Thompson said the cost to get one pallet of kiwifruit from Kerikeri to the Bay of Plenty is about $102. To load that same pallet at Marsden Point cost about $36, a saving of $66.

Moore was thrilled the service had been extended.

“The move is the result of months of hard work and relationship building by many people and organisations around our region. It reinforces what those of us who call Northland home already know, there is significant potential for economic growth here.

“We encourage any and all Northland importers and exporters, regardless of what sector they operate in, to use this service. We are hopeful that, given sufficient support, it could potentially become a weekly call.”

Road transport conference in September

Dunedin is to host the Road Transport Forum's (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Dunedin is to host the Road Transport Forum’s (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September. Photo: Yvonne O’Hara

Labour shortages, driver training and qualifications, and fatigue and impairment in the road transport sector will be some of the key issues to be discussed during the Road Transport Forum’s (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September.

RTF communications manager Hayden Cox said one of the big issues was the need to provide training and qualifications to workers in the industry.

He said it was important that operators were encouraged to provide training opportunities for their staff, in addition to gaining their relevant licences.

”It was something the forum needed to promote within the industry – that qualifications matter,” Mr Cox said.

He said driver fatigue and impairment from drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs was also a problem for transport industries around the world, not just in New Zealand.

Business New Zealand’s Paul Mackay will be talking about changes in employment rules.

”They will have a big effect on all transport operations,” Mr Cox said.

Steve Driver, of the Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP) will talk about addressing the transport sector driver shortage and raising the industry’s profile.

In addition there will be four sector meetings, including those for the livestock and forestry transport sectors.

Mr Cox said there were problems affecting livestock transport, including Mycoplasma bovis in relation to stock movements.

He said stock effluent containment during transport was another issue for the livestock transport sector.

Livestock transport operators were getting ‘pinged’ when the effluent tanks got full.

”Farmers are meant to stand their stock before transport, but many are not.

”Councils are meant to provide effluent disposal sites but many are not, and transport operators carry the can.

”It doesn’t take a lot of stock to fill up effluent tanks in trucks,” he said.

The conference will be at the Forsyth Barr Stadium from September 26 to 27.

In addition to a formal dinner and industry awards, the final of the 2018 New Zealand Truck Driving Championships will be held as part of the conference.

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